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'The Fashions'. Morning and ball dress, December 1861

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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'The Fashions'. Morning and ball dress, December 1861

by Bonnard, published by Samuel Orchart Beeton, published in The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, first published in Le Moniteur de la Mode, after A. Lacouche
hand-coloured etching and line engraving, published December 1861
8 1/4 in. x 5 1/4 in. (209 mm x 134 mm) paper size
acquired unknown source, 1930
Reference Collection
NPG D47994

Artistsback to top

  • Samuel Orchart Beeton (1831-1877), Publisher and journalist; husband of Mrs Isabella Beeton. Artist associated with 40 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
  • Bonnard (active 1860s-1870s), Engraver. Artist associated with 2 portraits.
  • The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine (1852-1879), Magazine. Artist associated with 40 portraits.
  • A. Lacouche (active 1861), Draughtsman. Artist associated with 1 portrait.
  • Le Moniteur de la Mode (1843-1913), French magazine. Artist associated with 40 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Described in the magazine:
1. Morning Dress - The hat is made of black felt, bound with velvet, and is trimmed with red and white ostrich feathers. A red net of the same colour as the feathers is worn over the hair. The Garibaldi shirt - an article that is now so much in favour - is made of very bright scarlet French merino, braided with black, and fastened down the front by black merino buttons. The shirt is made with a narrow collar, and straps on the shoulders, ornamented with braid, and a narrow black silk cravat is worn underneath the collar. The sleeves are gathered into a wristband, also braided, fastened by means of buttons and loops. A full-sized pattern of this favourite garment appeared on the Embroidery Sheet of our Magazine for November. The skirt illustrated in our plate is made of black silk, ornamented with a band of scarlet poplin at the bottom, the pockets being trimmed with the same material. A black alpaca skirt, trimmed with scarlet French merino to match the shirt, would have a very pretty effect, and would be less expensive.
2. Ball Dress. - The headdress consists of a bunch of small feathers placed on the top of the head, whilst the hair is arranged in frizzed curls. The feathers are fastened in the centre by a gold ornament. The dress is composed of a pretty shade of green crêpe, ornamented round the bottom with six pleated flounces. An upper skirt of white crêpe is looped over the green one, with bunches of feathers and a gold ornament in the centre of each. The body is made pointed behind and before, ornamented at the top with folds of crêpe, and finished off in the centre with a bunch of feathers. The sleeves consist of a crêpe puffing over a pleated green frill edged with white blonde; these are also ornamented with feathers to correspond with the rest of the dress. The slip, or petticoat, to be worn under the crêpe, should be made of a pretty shade of green silk, to match as nearly as possible the colour of the crêpe.

Events of 1861back to top

Current affairs

Death of Prince Albert, from typhoid fever. Queen Victoria goes into a long period of mourning, withdrawing from public duties, and becomes known by the satirical title 'Widow of Windsor'.

Art and science

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management is published by her husband Sidney, who successfully maintained the Beeton brand after his wife's early death seven years later. The highly popular book, containing recipes and advice for housekeeping, appealed to the Victorian belief that a woman's role was managing the home.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company is founded, marking the start of the arts and crafts movement.


The American civil war begins after the Confederate army attacks Union forces at Fort Sumter in April. The Confederates, comprised of eleven southern states who seceded from the Union over the right to independence on issues such as abolition, are presided over by Jefferson Davis, formerly senator of Mississippi. Although the Union had early successes, the Confederates' victory at Bull Run sets the Union up for a long, four-year war.

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